A First-Timer’s Guide to Universal Studios Florida

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Credit: Inside the Magic

Universal Studios Florida was where it all started for what is now Universal Orlando Resort. It is the first theme park and the heart of Universal in Orlando. Here is our guide to Universal Studios Florida.

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Credit: Universal

How do you plan a visit to Universal Studios Florida?

The best place to start planning your Universal Studios Florida vacation is on the Universal Orlando Resort official website.

You can also utilize our friends at Academy Travel to help you plan the perfect vacation to the Universal Orlando Resort, and a fantastic visit to Universal Studios Florida.

How do you maximize your time at Universal Studios Florida?

Here are some Universal Orlando tips!

A great way to maximize your time at Universal Studios Florida is to stay at a Universal hotel or resort. Universal hotels and resorts offer close proximity to Universal Studios Florida, Universal’s Islands of Adventure, and Universal’s Volcano Bay Water Park.

In order to enter Universal Studios Florida, you must first walk through Universal CityWalk. CityWalk is a dining and shopping center that connects Universal’s Islands of Adventure and Universal Studios Florida as the central hub. When you stay at a Universal hotel or resort you receive free transportation to CityWalk by bus or ferry, as well as convenient walking paths directly to CityWalk.

The free transportation is not only convenient and cuts down on the time it takes to enter Universal Studios Florida, but it also saves money as parking at Universal starts at $26.

Related: Universal Raises Prime Parking to $50, But Is It Worth It?

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Credit: Universal Orlando Blog

You can also decide if purchasing Universal Express Pass, a skip-the-line option that you can add to your admission ticket. We have a full guide on how and when it is best to purchase an Express Pass which you can read more about here.

Downloading the Universal Orlando app is a MUST for your visit to Universal Studios Florida! This app allows you to check wait times for attractions while you are inside the park, mobile-order food, and even make restaurant reservations. It will also give you vital minute-by-minute updates to any changes happening inside the park, such as down-times for attractions.

Which rides should you go on first at Universal Studios Florida?

There is so much to do at Universal Studios Florida, from rides to meeting charters, and watching a show or parade you will want to plan out your day.

Universal Studios Florida is home to Diagon Alley, which is a part of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. This is arguably the most popular section of Universal Studios Florida so be sure and check it out during your visit — you won’t want to miss it!

Ride strategy for Universal Studios Florida

If you are really passionate about riding some of the major attractions at Universal Studios Florida, you may want to hit those first and then enjoy the rest of your day more spontaneously. Some of the must-do thrill rides at Universal Studios Florida are:

  • Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts
  • Transformers: The Ride 3-D
  • Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit
  • Revenge of the Mummy
rip ride rockit
Credit: Universal

What are the best rides for small children at Universal Studios Florida?

If thrill rides are not your style, there are plenty of other incredible attractions! The following are the best attractions for families:

  • Despicable Me Minion Mayhem
  • E.T Adventure
  • MEN IN BLACK Alien Attack

If riding attraction is not your child’s thing, Fievel’s Playland and Woody Woodpecker’s Kidzone are the places to be inside of Universal Studios Florida. These immersive areas offer loads of entertainment for small children who may not yet be tall enough to ride attractions. 

Best rides at Universal Studios Florida

Everyone has different wants and needs when they visit Universal Studios Florida, so there is no way for us to say what the “best” rides at Universal Studios Florida are since it will be different for everyone.

You can read more about all of the attractions and find their height restrictions before your vacation here.

Major injuries at Walt Disney World, Universal Orlando theme parks l
Credit: Universal

What are the best roller coasters at Universal Studios Florida?

Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit, Harry Potter Escape from Gringotts, and Revenge of the Mummy are the roller coaster attractions at Universal Studios Florida are each one is a uniquely thrilling experience.

My personal favorite is Revenge of the Mummy! But if you are a coaster enthusiast, be sure to ride all of them.

What are the newest rides at Universal Studios Florida?

Fast and Furious Supercharged is the latest attraction at Universal Studios Florida. Universal describes the attraction as:

Join the crew for an immersive Fast & Furious experience. Step into an amazing re-creation of the crew’s headquarters filled with actual movie props and supercharged vehicles you’ve only seen on the big screen. Ride along with Dom, Letty, Hobbs and Roman on a street chase in the middle of the high-octane world of the Fast & Furious blockbuster films.

Fast & Furious: Supercharged
Credit: Universal

Coming soon to Universal Studios Florida sister park, Island’s of Adventure, is the highly anticipated VelociCoaster, which grand opens on June 10.

How can you determine the best Universal Studios Florida ticket package for your family?

Universal offers many different vacation packages, these special packages often change and Universal offers many different saving options depending on the time of year. Additionally, Universal gives discounts on packages for Florida residents. Right now there are even vacation packages for Canadian residents, so it is best to keep an eye on the Universal official website while you are planning your vacation.

As far as Universal Orlando Resort vacation packages go, we have seen that they mostly operate on a per-day rate based on the number of days you stay at the resort. For example, they will offer vacation packages based on a 4-night minimum stay at select resorts, or a 7-night stay at other resorts. There are a lot of options for savings!

You can also use our friends at Academy Travel for no extra cost — they will help you plan the perfect Universal Orlando Resort vacation!

universal orlando
Credit: Universal Orlando Blog

How do you book a Universal Orlando vacation package?

You can book a vacation package by visiting the official Universal Orlando Resort website here.

What are the cheapest times to visit Universal Studios Florida?

There is always an affordable time to visit Universal Studios Florida, but here are some things to keep in mind when you are planning your visit.

Universal Studios Florida is the home of many special events that take place at the Universal Orlando Resort. For example, Mardi Gras and Halloween Horror Nights happen annually at Universal Studios Florida.

Mardi Gras
Credit: Katrina A. Inside the Magic

Mardi Gras is an event that is included with an admission ticket to Universal Studios Florida, however, Halloween Horror Nights is a separately ticketed event that sees the entire park close in the evenings for those who have not purchased a ticket. If you are interested in going to Halloween Horror Nights, September-October are great times to visit, but you may need to purchase multiple admission tickets to enjoy Universal Studios Florida during the day and the event at night.

If Halloween is not your thing, September-October is not the best time financially to head to Universal Studios Florida as you will not be getting a full day inside the park for the price of your admission ticket.

Which hotels near Universal Studios Florida are best for families?

Universal has plenty of hotels and resorts to choose from for your vacation. Some even offer family suites that are perfect for large traveling parties or those who just want a little more elbow room during their stay.

Additionally, certain accommodations such as the Hard Rock Hotel offer free Express Pass during your stay. This can add a lot of value to your family’s vacation by helping you maximize your time while you are at the theme park.

The best part about staying at a Universal resort or hotel is that Universal offers early park admission for hotel Guests! That means your family has the opportunity to enter the park before other Guests and ride some of the most sought-after attractions with little to no wait! Read more about Early Park Admission here.

Despicable Me character meet
Credit: Universal Orlando

Where to stay for a Universal Studios Florida vacation

Here are the accommodations at Universal Orlando Resort:

  • Universal’s Endless Summer Resort
  • Universal’s Aventura Hotel
  • Universal’s Cabana Bay Beach Resort
  • Loews Sapphire Falls Resort
  • Loews Royal Pacific Resort
  • Loews Portofino Bay Hotel
  • Hard Rock Hotel
Cabana Bay Beach Resort, Universal Orlando
Credit: Universal

Personally, for a large family, I recommend the suites at Universal’s Cabana Bay. Cabana Bay is within walking distance from the theme parks and steps away from Universal’s Volcano Bay, the immersive water park at Universal Orlando Resort. Cabana Bay is themed to the 1950s and ’60s and offers two playfully themed pools, a lazy river, a bowling alley, and more.

A family suite at Cabana Bay at the time of publication of this article is $143 a night if you stay for at least four nights.

If you are searching for something more affordable, try out Universal’s Endless Summer Resort, which is the newest and most economical Universal Resort option.

What hotels are within walking distance to Universal Studios Florida?

Hard Rock is right on the doorstep of Universal Studios Florida as Islands of Adventure. But other Universal resorts and hotels are also within walking distance of the theme parks.

Other than Universal’s Endless Summer Resort, each Universal hotel is within walking distance of Universal Studios Florida.

endless summer lobby
Credit: Universal

How much does it typically cost per person to go to Universal Studios Florida?

A one park, one-day ticket option for Universal Studios Florida at the time of this publication is $109. Universal Studios Florida is not an oversized theme park; you can certainly visit the park and enjoy everything the park has to offer in one day! You may even want to get a two-park ticket and take the Hogwarts Express over to Islands of Adventure for even more fun!
In addition to the cost of a ticket, you need to factor in hotel stay if applicable, the cost of food, and any souvenirs. The cost of a Universal Orlando Resort hotel stay is up to you, as there are many options to choose from depending on your budget.

Food is always pricey inside of a theme park, but I tend to enjoy options at Universal over the options at Disney. I highly recommended eating at the Leaky Cauldron, which is a themed restaurant inside of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios Florida. The food is decently priced, tastes delicious, and the theming is perfect.

Slytherin Wands
Credit: Universal Orlando

Speaking of the Wizarding World, if you are a Harry Potter fan you will want to set some money aside for souvenirs! The wands inside of the Wizarding World are great keepsakes for those who love the Harry Potter franchise. You can read all about the different interactive wands here.

Including hotel, tickets, food, and souvenirs you are looking at over $150+ per person. Don’t worry though, our friends over at Academy Travel can help keep costs low while making your trip magical — using a travel agent is completely FREE!

Will you be making a visit to Universal Studios Florida? Let us know in the comments!

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